Revisiting another artist who made her home and practice in the Midwest for several years, this post takes a look at the paintings of Ellen Siebers, who is now based in New York. She earned a BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA from the University of Iowa, and she still shows regularly in the Midwest.
Siebers’ paintings are small in scale, typically square in format and no larger than 24 inches across–most falling somewhere in the middle, between 11 and 21 inches. The smaller dimensions and square supports make them accessible in a formal, approachable sort of way, but what gives them an edge is that the subjects of each painting resist total comprehension. They function like miniature portals through which we get to see a glimpse of something, like a memory, or perhaps a piece of a dream–in any case, a snippet. For instance, Henry, above, is clearly meant to represent a man, standing in a space of light or in a door frame, yet he is mostly obscured from view. It is as though he is drifting in and out of focus, like a fuzzy memory of someone whose face we can’t quite grasp.
Siebers’ use of muted colors and somewhat limited palette also suggest a unified vision, whether of the past, a dream sequence, or tiny pieces of the memory puzzle. It is difficult to make a generally grey or neutral ground appear “awake,” but the layering of tones and gently textured brush strokes invite us to peek beneath the surface coat. The apparently thin paint allows us to see the under-surface as though through a thin film, giving the work a simultaneously layered and lightweight quality.
Siebers currently has work up at No. 4 Gallery in Brooklyn, NY through 30 December. January 2016 will see her paintings up alongside the work of Ian White Williams at Proto Gallery in Hoboken, NJ in January 2016. And she will also have work in the large survey show “Luck of the Draw” at Central Madison Public Library, Madison, WI, which runs 8 January to 26 February 2016.
More work and information on the artist can be found at ellensiebers.com
+ + +